3DX Industries, Inc., a Seattle-based precision manufacturer is using metal 3D printing for serial production.
A series of production run parts were 3D printed for use by Alaska General Seafoods (AGS). The metal additive components were designed by 3DX as replacement parts for the seafood processing company’s canning line in Alaska.
Binder jet 3D printing was used with the parts requiring no post machining. From the photos available, some degree of post-processing is apparent.
Manufacturing for extreme conditions
Producing for the demanding conditions experienced in Alaska meant the spare parts had to be of the highest standard. 3DX President and CEO Roger Janssen said,
“Knowing these parts were going to be used in such a remote location under extreme conditions was a challenge that we were excited to address. Any shutdown in their processing facility due to these parts not meeting OEM standards was not an option. Knowing the strength of the finished product we were confident it would satisfy the demands placed on these parts.”
Reducing production time and cost
According to Mr Janssen, producing with binder jetting offers real benefits, “The time and cost savings to our customers continues to be a significant advantage over traditional manufacturing processes.”
Karry Lattig of Alaska General said, “We are very pleased with how these parts have performed during our production seasons. They were in a high contact/high use section of our production line, and they performed beyond what we expected they would.”
After 2 full seasons under extreme conditions, there is virtually no wear on these parts, which in comparison to the original parts we were using is nothing short of exceptional. There has been no shut down required to remove and replace worn parts using the metal printed parts from 3DX which has not only saved us time, but costs as well. We will continue to use 3DX Industries to supply us with new and replacement parts for our facilities as needed throughout the coming seasons.
While binder jetting is not new in the 3D printing industry, it has surged in popularity in the past year.
In December 2017, GE Additive released the first photo of its forthcoming binder jet 3D printer under project name H1. Desktop Metal, an award winning startup, also received two patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The renewed interest in binder jetting for metal additive manufacturing can be attributed to new market entrants such as Desktop Metal. However, the tech unicorn is not the sole beneficiary with binder jet specialist ExOne reportedly seeing an increase in enquiries from potential customers.
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Featured image is Alsek, an Alaskan salmon Seiner. Image via Wikimedia Commons